November 5, 2013

Hey, a rule is a rule, and let's face it, without rules there's chaos.

Kramer may have been talking about golf with Steve Gendason, but he just as easily could have been talking about gym etiquette. In particular, the etiquette at my work gym.

The work gym is a fascinating place. You go there to sweat and work out, but the people there are the people you see all day outside of the gym. So you can't be overtly rude or insensitive, because it could have real-world consequences. Forget to wipe off the bench press, and suddenly you lose Conference Room B.

But there are really only three rules that need to be followed:

  • Wipe off your sweat when you're done with a piece of equipment
  • Don't turn the heat above 70
  • When you have the remote to the TV in front of the cardio machines, be sure to offer it to the first person who came after you when you are finished.
Can you tell which rule I am going to talk about?

The first one is obvious. The sweat from other people in general is nasty, with the sole exception of whatever you work up in the throes of passion with your significant other. The sweat from other people on gym equipment brings nasty to a whole-new level. And even passion sweat doesn't get a pass on the incline press.

The heat rule is also obvious. No one needs to have the heat at 75 degrees in the gym when your purpose for being there is going to MAKE YOU HOT! Personally, I feel it should be kept at 65. But I also recognize I am an outlier in that department. So maybe it could be a few degrees warmer in the gym. But 75? No frickin' way.

Which brings us to rule #3. This one may not be obvious to some people, so I'll explain.

My work gym has roughly 12 cardio machines (elliptical, treadmill, bikes) at one end of the gym. In front of them is a single big-screen television. The understood rule (which I try to reinforce by following it every time) is that whoever gets there first gets to watch what they want. When they are done, they offer the remote to the first person who came after them. If they refuse it, you go to first person who came after that person. And so forth. It's very orderly, makes sense and is easy to follow.

Which brings us to yesterday. I come out of the locker room ready to hop on the elliptical machine. There are two people there: a man on the treadmill and a woman on another elliptical. A third man has just finished working out. He is about to offer the remote to the man, who was there before the woman. But then the woman belts out "Hey! Can you put it on 71?"

A massive breach of etiquette. The guy with the remote still tried to check with the treadmill guy. At which point she says "Ah, he won't mind!" At which point Treadmill Guy, who didn't look particularly...assertive, backed down. So we flip to 71, which is, of course, Country Music Television. Or as I call it, Hell.

For the next 10 minutes I had to endure watching this twangy claptrap. I'd have rather been under a dentist's drill with no anesthetic. But then, miraculously, she gets off her machine. I'm getting ready to take the remote and flip away to anything. News, MTV, The View...anything as long as it isn't Country Bumpkin and His Downhome Jug-Time Band.

But does she give me the remote? No. She walks over to the TV, puts it back on the shelf, and walks off to the machine behind the television. She thinks she's going to listen to CMT while she does the rest of her workout.

Guess again, sunshine. I get off the machine in the middle of my workout. Which I hate doing because I lose the groove I settle into when working on those machines. I grab the remote and march back to the machine. At which point I do something somewhat juvenile: I jam the volume up about seven steps and flip to ESPN. Which happens to be playing a NFL Films recap of Super Bowl XXVI, or "When the Bills were Halfway to Infamy."

For the rest of my time on the machine, this woman shot me the dagger eyes, vowing some sort of redneck justice for what I did. But there are RULES, madam! And you did not obey them. Don't be angry at me for your transgressions.

And when I was done, I proffered the remote to each of the three people who had gotten on the machines after me. In order. And everyone was pleased and content when I placed the remote back on the shelf, because I followed the rules.

So screw you, Snarky Country Hick Lady.


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